Gerry Condon

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Gerry Condon


Gerry Condonis a longtime U.S. antiwar activist and writer who works closely with active duty GI’s and military veterans.

Venezuela delegation

Leaders of the anti-war movement in the United States arrived in Caracas on March 9 and 10 to find out firsthand the truth of how the government and population are responding to the U.S.-led attacks on Venezuela. They will use this truth to build solidarity with the worldwide efforts to stop the covert U.S. war, economic sabotage and propaganda assault on Venezuela.

Delegation-in-Venezuela-678x509.jpg

As they landed in Caracas, the delegates, like the Venezuelan people, were faced with a power outage caused by sabotage of the electrical grid. This interfered with transportation and communications for them, too, even though their hotel had its own power generator.

Everyone in the group had planned to arrive on March 9, but some airlines insisted that the travelers have visas just to fly to Venezuela. Since the break in U.S.-Venezuelan relations, no visas are being issued in the U.S., but most of the delegation members were able to fly anyway, based on letters from their Venezuelan hosts.

Saturday, March 9, sharing the same flight into Caracas were Bahman Azad, the organizational secretary of the U.S. Peace Council, the organization sponsoring the delegation; Gerry Condon, president of Veterans for Peace; Sara Flounders, co-coordinator of the International Action Center; Ajamu Baraka, national coordinator of the Black Alliance for Peace; progressive journalist Eva Bartlett; and Joe Lombardo, co-coordinator of the United National Antiwar Coalition.

Arriving later that day and Sunday to complete the delegation were Sarah Martin from Women Against Military Madness; Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers of Popular Resistance; Darien De Lu, president of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom-U.S.; Miguel Figueroa, president of the Canadian Peace Congress; and Daniel Shea, board of directors, Veterans For Peace.

The delegation met over the next few days with Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, who discussed with them the historic struggle between the U.S. and Venezuela over who will control the great oil and gold resources of this South American nation. The fact that Washington is now acting so openly against the Venezuelan government exposes to people all over the world the real face of U.S. imperialism.

Arreaza made it clear that the Bolivarian government attaches great importance to the potential response of the people in the U.S. He said you must be in the front lines, that you are the first victims of imperialism and that the most fundamental change will happen inside the United States.

This underscores the importance of the demonstration that the members of the delegation and their organizations are building for March 30 in Washington, D.C. UNAC originally called this event to protest the upcoming 70th anniversary of NATO, set to be celebrated there by the Western warmakers on April 4. But after the U.S. moves against the government in Caracas, the coalition refocused the March 30 action more urgently on opposing U.S. intervention in Venezuela. Many organizations now support this protest.

Solidarity groups in Venezuela are also paying attention to the U.S. movement. The Committee of International Solidarity (COSI) met the delegates as they arrived at the airport and have helped explain what is happening on the ground in their country.

In addition to our meetings with Arreaza, the North American delegates held discussions with organizers from COSI, including its president, Carolus Wimmer; Carlos Ron, the vice minister of foreign affairs for North America, who had been stationed in New York for some time; and Pasqualina Curcio, an economist at the Central University of Venezuela.

Curcio discussed the U.S. role in creating the “humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela. These include shortages of basic necessities: toilet paper, corn, milk, coffee and vital medicines. To counter these shortages, the Bolivarian government established a distribution network to serve 6 million families by importing food, medicine and hygiene products.

The current U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil, the blocking of its banking services and the edicts that prevent the government from using its gold reserves all restrict the ability of the Venezuelan government to satisfy basic needs.

On top of this, the U.S. has handed $11 billion worth of assets of Venezuela’s national oil company, CITGO, directly to Juan Guaidó, a virtually unknown right-wing politician until U.S. Vice President Mike Pence suggested on Jan. 23 that Guaidó nominate himself to be “interim president.”

Foreign Minister Arreaza was recently in negotiations with Elliott Abrams, who just this January was appointed Special Representative for Venezuela by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Abrams had organized bloody right-wing coups in Central America in the 1980s for the Reagan administration and was also a key architect of the Iraq War.

Arreaza characterized Abrams as “frank” when he told the Venezuelan that “all options are on the table” — a threat of military intervention aimed at splitting the Venezuelan military.

When Arreaza then reminded Abrams that “The coup has failed,” the U.S. organizer of counterrevolutions shrugged and said, “This is a long-term project.”

Arreaza explained to the anti-war delegation that in countering the shutdown of its electrical power, Venezuela had to deal with an attack on the brain of its electrical system. “The enemy knows the weakness of the system,” he said. “The U.S. knows what Venezuela could not buy or replace. Knows what we have. This is cyber terrorism!”

Abrams also told Arreaza that to get peace, Venezuela must do as Nicaragua did in 1990, that is, hold a new election that the European Union would set up — and that would open the door to the right-wing.

Arreaza explained to the antiwar group that Venezuela has a broad system of social protection that began under Hugo Chavez and was even further expanded after Maduro became president. “That’s why,” he said, “four days without power in several major cities did not lead to chaos,” as it would have in most of the world. The imperialists wanted an image of people looting food markets, but that failed.

Russia, China and Turkey are helping Venezuela, said Arreaza. “We need the solidarity of the whole world, though. Terrorist brigades are being armed against us.”

The demonstration supporting Guaidó on the day the delegation arrived was smaller than its organizers had projected. While Maduro may have the support of half the population, his opposition is divided into many forces. And most of them oppose U.S. military intervention.

Eastern Caracas, an upper- and middle-class area, is a base of the opposition to the Maduro government. Western Caracas is working class and Black, with a lot of support for the government. Lombardo reports that the west side used to be a real shanty town, but the Bolivarian Revolution put resources into this community and now the people live in nice apartment buildings.

Guaidó’s forces, reports Flounders, were described as racist, sort of the KKK of Venezuela. Nine of the people burnt to death by the counterrevolutionary opposition in 2017 were Black Venezuelans.

Even by Sunday, March 10, the delegation already had a lot of media requests for interviews. They plan a press conference at the United Nations in New York City on Monday, March 18 at 11 a.m., as well as a public webinar reportback.[1]

Rebel soldier

In 1968, while in the U.S. Army Special Forces, Gerry Condon began to speak out against the Vietnam War and to refuse all military orders. The U.S. Army then ordered him to deploy to Vietnam and Gerry refused. Condon was court-martialed and sentenced to ten years in prison and a Dishonorable Discharge. But he escaped from Fort Bragg, North Carolina and from the United States, initially going to Montreal, Quebec and then heading to Europe.

Condon lived in West Germany for six months in 1969, while traveling all around Europe, finally receiving “humanitarian asylum” in Sweden. In early 1970 he joined the American Deserters Committee (ADC) in Stockholm, and helped to produce their newsletter, The Paper Grenade. He traveled around Europe as a liaison for the Stockholm exiles, meeting with American deserters and draft resisters in Paris and London, as well as with European activists who were assisting GI resisters in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark. Gerry represented the American Deserters Committee at the Stockholm International Conference to End the War in Vietnam and at the Paris International Conference on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. He met several times with representatives of the Vietnamese liberation struggle.

Canada/touring America

In 1972, Gerry Condon moved to Canada, where he worked with the AMEX-Canada (American exile) collective in Toronto, which called for an end to the U.S. war in Southeast Asia and spearheaded a campaign for amnesty for all U.S. war resisters. In 1975, he returned to the United States in a challenge to President Ford’s unconditional pardon of Richard Nixon and his punitive “clemency program” for U.S. war resisters. At the risk of arrest, he embarked on a five month speaking tour that took him to 50 U.S. cities. By this time most Americans were opposed to the Vietnam War and there was widespread support for amnesty for those who had refused to participate in that illegal war. To avoid public embarrassment, the White House ordered that Condon should not be arrested, and his jail sentence was dropped. condon has been a peace and solidarity activist ever since.[2]

Nicaragua

In 1983-84, Condon organized the first two delegations of U.S. military veterans to revolutionary Nicaragua. He served as director of the Veterans Peace Action Teams, which worked in the war zones of Nicaragua, rebuilding schools and medical clinics that had been destroyed by the U.S.-backed “Contras.” And he was a national coordinator of the Veterans Peace Convoy to Nicaragua in 1987. In the 1990’s, Condon worked with Pastors For Peace to organize humanitarian aid caravans to Central America and Cuba, challenging U.S. policy throughout Latin America.[3]

Hard Times Conference

In 1976 Gerry Condon for National Council for Universal and Unconditional Amnesty attended the Weather Underground and Prairie Fire Organizing Committee organized Hard Times Conference Jan 30 - Feb 1 at the University of Chicago.[4]

New generation

In 2004, Condon returned to Canada to work with another generation of U.S. war resisters, who were seeking asylum in Canada rather than being re-deployed to the U.S. war on the people of Iraq. He worked closely with the War Resisters Support Campaign in Canada and he founded Project Safe Haven, a network of former war resisters who are supporting war resisters today.

Gerry Condon is co-chair of the GI Resistance Working Group of Veterans For Peace, a national organization with chapters in over 100 U.S. cities. He works closely with Iraq Veterans Against the War and the Coffee Strong GI Coffeehouse outside of Fort Lewis, Washington, one of the largest Army bases in the United States.

In a recent article in On Watch, the newsletter of the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild, Gerry Condon wrote that it is time to consider building a movement for amnesty for all war resisters, while bringing more legal, political and material resources to support GI resisters.[5]

Open Letter to Obama on Iran

In 2008 Gerry Condon of Project Safe Haven, Seattle, WA signed an online petition “A Open Letter to Barack Obama on Iran”.[6]

Veterans for Peace contact

In 2010 Gerry Condon was listed as Greater Seattle contact for Veterans for Peace:[7]

Letter to Holder and Obama

February 7, 2011, Seattle United Against FBI Repression, contacts: Ellen Finkelstein and Doug Barnes press release;

Local leaders and groups ask President Obama and U.S. Attorney General to end Grand Jury investigation of peace and solidarity activists...

More than 70 regional community leaders and organizations have signed an open letter calling on President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to use their authority to "stop assaults on freedom of speech and association, to halt FBI entrapment, [and] to keep nonviolent activists from being sent to prison.” The letter was issued by Seattle United Against FBI Repression.

Signatories included Gerry Condon, Veterans for Peace.

Bradley Manning Support Network

Bradley Manning Support Network Steering Committee members, as of January 2012;[8]

Peace Council delegation to Syria

Meeting President Bashar al Assad

August 9, 2016 — A Peace and Fact-Finding Delegation, organized by the U.S. Peace Council just returned from a week-long visit to Syria. The delegation met with representatives of numerous NGOs, heads of industry, religious leaders and civil society, high-level leaders of the Syrian government, and it held an extended private meeting with President Bashar al Assad.

The delegation’s findings could not be more timely as the world watched the Obama administration escalating violence and bombing in Libya and threatening to escalate its overt military role in Syria. These violent actions take place while the Syrian government and its allies are closing in on the various foreign-funded terrorist groups that have plagued the people of Syria for over 5 years.

Consisting of seven activists representing various peace organizations the Peace Delegation was led jointly by Henry Lowendorf from the executive committee of the USPC and Gerry Condon, Vice President of Veterans for Peace.

“Almost everything we read about Syria in the media is wrong,” said Gerry Condon. “The reality is that the U.S. government is supporting armed extremist groups who are terrorizing the Syrian people and trying to destroy Syria’s secular state.”

“In order to hide that ugly reality and push violent regime change,” continued Condon, “the U.S. is conducting a psychological warfare campaign to demonize Syria’s president, Bashar al Assad. This is a classic tactic that veterans have seen over and over. It is shocking, however, to realize how willingly the media repeat this propaganda, and how many people believe it to be true.”

The Peace delegation spent nearly two hours in dialogue with President Assad, a soft spoken man with a wry sense of humor who thoughtfully answered questions about the current engagement in Aleppo, his perceptions of the bilateral negotiations between the US and Russia, and the revolutionary policy of ending the war through grass roots reconciliation initiatives. Judith Bello reflected, “Syria’s reconciliation plan is a powerful example of a restorative response to divisive forces spreading violence and chaos in a generally tolerant and peaceful country.”

“All members of the Delegation returned convinced that Syria’s sovereignty must be respected, that it up to Syrians to overcome whatever problems exist in their country without interference from the US,” said Henry Lowendorf, co-leader of the delegation. “There exists in Syria a strong nonviolent political opposition who are working both inside and outside the government.”

Members of the Peace Delegation:

Coordinating Committee of Hands Off Syria Coalition

References